For The Child That Wants It All
After spending hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of dollars on your child’s toys and desires, you’ve had it. It’s time for a friendly reality check and time to give your child a good lesson on the value of money.
Children usually have a carefree way of viewing the material items they have and desire. They believe that Mommy and Daddy can buy them anything they want; however, just like tossing away toys, children can be careless about money, too. Although it is traditionally considered a parent’s duty to buy items for their kids’ general welfare and happiness, you must draw the line somewhere and consider the long-term effects that this has on your children. By giving them everything on their wish list, children believe that they can wave a magic wand over their parents and be given what they desire. Now that the magic wand is broken, it’s time to show them several ways they can earn money and understand the differences between needs and wants.
For Children of All Ages:
For most working adults, they understand that money comes with hard work, and children should also be taught this valuable life lesson. You can easily let your children earn money after they have completed chores around the house. Set up jars or piggy banks with your child or children’s name on it. Every time they complete a chore, put a certain amount, such as $1.00, in their bank; you can increase the amount they earn with age and increased chore skill just like a real job. Then, every week or so, take them out to celebrate their hard work by taking them to their favorite candy store or toy store.
You can also take the chance and teach them other lessons—making high-quality choices and how to save for bigger purchases. Both of these lessons help children understand that the things you buy with money are investments and that money isn’t “free”; in the future it may help them avoid credit cards.
Does your child have too many toys or toys that haven’t seen the light of day in awhile? Have a yard sale for your children to help them understand the flow of earning cash for outgrown items. You can set up a table for your youngsters, while they can practice selling their old toys and books for cash. Be sure to teach your children addition and subtraction basics. To make it easier, make prices for items rounded numbers, whole denominations, or provide your child with an easy-to-follow flowchart of how much change to return.
To make this yard sale event more fun, give your child their own personalized cash box. Teach them how to organize the cash they will earn in the cash box. The yard sale will aid in children’s understanding of earning money and keeping it safe for future savings and/or spending.
Love Thy Neighbor
Neighbors could always use a little help from children! Whether it’s shoveling snow during winter holidays or helping to pick weeds out of the garden, see if your neighbors ever need help with their house chores, especially elderly neighbors. You can either ask how much they’re willing to pay for your children’s help with chores or pay your child yourself.
For Older Children:
Although this might be a bit challenging at first and will require some parental supervision and financial investment, you can have your child resell items that are on sale in stores, on websites like eBay. This can help kids understand how to spot a great deal on items and save money. For example, if popular movie DVDs have been marked down to $1 each at Wal-Mart, your child can buy a certain amount and resell it at double the price on eBay. From movies to half-off tech gadgets, your child can learn how to use the money he or she earns and buy more items to resell for an even larger profit.
This tactic might be slightly different since your children will be earning money for a special cause rather than for their piggy banks. However, this technique teaches children that money can be given to help people. It also teaches them that they don’t need to hoard every penny they earn. Spend some time with your children and research charities that they might be interested in helping. To raise money, you can see if the charity already offers ways to do so or you and your child can come up with fundraising ideas. For example, you can create an old-fashioned lemonade stand. For a newer twist on the lemonade stand, you can have unconventional refreshments, such as fruit punch juice, fruit cups, and homemade baked goods, to appeal to a larger audience. Check with local grocery stores, gas stations, neighborhoods, and other nearby areas to see if you and your children can have a lemonade stand outside their doors and fundraise for a chosen charity.
Another way to fundraise for a charity is by taking your children grocery food shopping to select foods that can be given away for a food drive. You can help teach them how to buy in bulk to save more money and show them that food and money can be given away to help others.
Parents obviously love their children and want to give their children happiness. However, giving away material items doesn’t provide them with true happiness, nor does it prepare your children for a peaceful financial future. Children are very observant and are always eager to learn, so teach them early on through your actions. Besides teaching them, you should be the best financial-advisor, role model for your children as well.
Maxime Rieman, a writer for NerdWallet, is on a mission to provide everyone with low cost auto insurance.